Fast forward to 2017, a bigger boat, much more safety gear and a much healthier respect for weather warnings and here we are in Friday Harbor again.
When Darrin said he wanted to do Cattle Pass again I was trepidatious to say the least. No. Absolutely Not. We need to go a different way. I’m not doing that again. No.
He talked me into it. He’s not one to let anything get the better of him. He did lots of research. He had it all mapped out. Weather. Tides (the right station this time). Current. Wind. Plotted it all. Created waypoints. Looked at the weather every day. So I caved and said ok. It’s really hard to argue when confronted with all that logic. Something that helped this was whenever people had asked about our 2015 trip, I would tell them how we almost DIED in Cattle Pass and how terrifying it was, and more often than not they seemed to be bemused – they said it was fine when they went through. So I said ok, we’ll go that way again.
Once again we went to Port Ludlow on a beautiful Friday afternoon, but this time stayed on the boat and drank our own G&T, thus the dinghy was safe.
The next day was a quick hop to Port Townsend where we had a lovely BBQ on board, checked the weather and our plans obsessively (Darrin has the patience of a saint – he answered every.single.stupid.question I asked at least 37 times) and decided to leave the next day at 5am, the plan being we would arrive at Cattle Pass by around 11am and all should be well – a slight current and the southerly winds would give us a gentle push through and we’d be done in no time. We got everything in the boat stowed away safely, got snacks organized for the trip, and went to bed.
I’d be lying if I said I slept well. Darrin slept like a baby.
We were up bright and early and checked the weather forecast. Gale Warning for the afternoon. %^&*. We decided to leave as we thought we’d be well and truly out of the Strait by the time afternoon came. And we decided to motor for the sake of speed. Which is wimping out. Yes I know. But do YOU want to be stuck on a 40 foot sail boat in the midst of a gale 12 miles from land with an hysterical Australian redhead? I think not.
We pulled out of the marina and headed in to Admiralty Inlet as the sun was
rising. There were a few other boats heading the same direction which made me feel better about the whole thing. Admiralty Inlet was really quite rough, swells of about 25 feet, which were in real life probably about 5 feet, but still – felt like 25. We had a buddy boat, Gypsy, which we travelled along with, he said this was his 17th crossing of the Strait, so that made me feel better again even though we were slamming a bit.
Halfway across and the wind died and the swell disappeared and we had quite a smooth ride the rest of the way. Approaching Cattle Pass was like night and day compared to the last time. While we could see a few small tide rips, Darrin steered to port to avoid them and just like that, we were through in about 5 minutes. It had only taken us about 3 hours to get from Port Townsend through the Pass.
Our original plan was to anchor in Fishermans Bay on Lopez Island for a few days, but it was a low high tide and we only had about 6 inches of water under the keel, so we beat a hasty retreat and went to Friday Harbor instead.
We didn’t have a reservation so we called up the Port and they put us on a wait list. 2 hours later we were safe and sound in a slip, admiring the beautiful weather and excited for our first successful passage to be completed.
It’s amazing what a difference good planning and research makes to a comfortable safe passage. We both commented on how far we had come in the last 2 years. We have so much more to learn of course, but we’re happy for a lovely trip so far. Kudos of course to Eione’s wonderful captain – he’s so awesome! He spent so much time researching and planning to make sure we had a safe and pleasant passage. Eione did amazingly well too – she took the swells easily and was solid and comfortable the whole way and we’re so happy with how she handles.
So for the next three nights we’re staying in Friday Harbor. It’s nice to relax, wander the town, read books, nap. And there’s fireworks on the 4th!